Kashechewan to begin annual evacuation in stages with threat of Albany River flooding

Hundreds of people in Kashechewan are expected to fly out of the James Bay community today.

Children, elderly and those with health issues will go first, starting today

The community of Kashechewan is preparing for the annual flooding threat from the ice breakup on the Albany River. On Monday night, Chief Leo Friday Sr., declared a state of emergency. (Erik White/CBC )

Hundreds of people in Kashechewan are expected to fly out of the James Bay community today. 

The First Nation of 1,700 is being evacuated in stages for fear of the risk of flooding from the Albany River.

The first wave of about 550 elders and children will be arriving in Kapuskasing over the next four days.

There are no flood waters in Kashechewan yet, but people are flown out every spring as a precaution.

It has however been several years since the entire community was evacuated during break-up.

In a news release, the Chief Administrative Officer for Kapuskasing, Guylain Baril, says the people will be arriving in host communities over the next three to four days.

The first arrivals will remain in Kapuskasing and stay at local motels while the rest will go to neighbouring communities.

Those remaining people will be re-directed to other host communities over the weekend.

The flights, hotel stays and meals for Kashechewan​ evacuees costs between 15 and 20 million dollars every year.

Scientists, community officials and elders keep a close eye on the Albany River every spring for conditions that could cause flooding for the communities of Fort Albany and Kashechewan. (Erik White/CBC)

with files from Kate Rutherford